Historically, surgical treatment of damaged cervical discs has consisted of removing the disc and fusing the adjacent vertebrae. Recently, a new type of surgery has emerged. A cervical disc replacement restores the integrity and, most importantly, the function of the cervical joint. Here’s everything you need to know:
The seven vertebrae of the neck are known as the cervical vertebrae. Numbered C1-C7, they perfectly align to perform the important roles of helping support the head, move the neck, and protect the spinal cord. In order to prevent bone-on-bone rubbing, each vertebra is separated by a cushioned “shock absorber” known as an intervertebral cervical disc.
Illustration 1- The location of Intervertebral discs
Degenerative disc disease or a traumatic injury can disrupt the integrity and position of the disc causing it to protrude into the vertebral canal. When this happens, a host of unpleasant symptoms can present. Some of the most common are:
- Neck pain
- Upper extremity pain
In order to treat these symptoms, an orthopedic spine specialist can prescribe a host of non-surgical treatment options. Should they be ineffective, a cervical disc replacement might be necessary.
The Procedure for Cervical Disc Replacement
Orthopedic spine surgeons are the only medical professionals that can perform cervical disc replacements. During the open or minimally invasive procedure, the damaged disc is located and removed and metal implant devices are inserted into the vertebral space. A medical grade plastic spacer is inserted between the devices to allow for motion. Once the procedure is completed, x-rays are taken to ensure the components are inserted correctly.
Illustration 2- Metal and plastic disc replacement components
In most cases, patients are allowed to return home the day of or day after surgery.
Results of Cervical Disc Replacement
As previously mentioned, cervical disc replacement can alleviate the symptoms of a diseased or damaged disc and improve cervical joint mobility. However, it’s important to note that the procedure is indicated for certain conditions that can only be diagnosed by an orthopedic spine specialist.
Arranging an Appointment
If you can relate to the information in this post and/or are experiencing neck pain that won’t go away, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. Our specialists will use their knowledge, skills, and experience to accurately diagnosis your condition and determine what treatment options are right for you. If a cervical disc replacement can help you, you’ll be in great hands—a full recovery will be the goal and end result.
The Spine Team at Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates consists of Physical Therapists, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialists and Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeons. Our goal is to design a treatment plan customized to your lifestyle and goals and we use the latest advancements in both non-surgical and Minimally Invasive spine care. We have offices located in both Duxbury and Sandwich, MA. Contact us today to schedule a consult!